President Trump signed an executive order Monday to slap “hard-hitting” sanctions on Iran that would also target the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for being the architect of the country’s belligerent behavior.
“Today’s action follows a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks, including shooting down of US drones,” attacking oil tankers and sponsoring terrorist groups in the region, he said.
Saying Khamenei is “ultimately responsible” for Iran’s actions, Trump said the sanctions will deprive him and other high-level leaders of access to “key financial resources and support.”
“The assets of Ayatollah Khamenei and his office will not be spared from the sanctions,” Trump said. “These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.”
Trump signed the order shortly before noon with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin standing alongside him in the Oval Office.
“We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran,” Trump told reporters. “Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon.”
He said the sanctions will continue to apply pressure on Tehran to return to the table and negotiate a deal that will prohibit Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and supporting terrorism.
“I can only tell you, we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon, and it won’t happen, and secondly, and very importantly, we don’t want money going out to sponsor terror,” Trump said.
“They are the No. 1 sponsor of terror in the world. So I’ll sign this order right now.”
Mnuchin said the sanctions will do further damage to the Iranian economy.
“We have literally locked up tens and tens of billions of dollars,” he said. “These sanctions will come along with additional entities where people are hiding money. … These sanctions are highly effective.”
The president reinstated sanctions on the Islamic Republic after he withdrew the US last year from the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration with Russia, China, France, Germany, England and the European Union.
He also ended waivers that allowed some countries to buy Iranian oil despite the sanctions.